The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the appointment of Chinese singer Peng Liyuan as Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General, said Ms. Peng will raise international attention on these two diseases, which together were responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million people in 2009. In addition, she will advocate for stronger action to ensure those in need can access prevention, care and treatment services, WHO said in a press statement.
“Her appointment will have a lasting impact in bringing awareness to two of the world's deadliest infectious diseases and the recent advances that have been made in the areas of prevention and treatment of TB and HIV,” Dr. Chan said.
Ms. Peng has been working with the Chinese health ministry to spread awareness about preventable diseases. As one of the most popular vocal artists in China, Ms. Peng has an enormous following that spans millions of people. She has won numerous awards for her singing as well as her humanitarian work.
“It is a great honour to be given this important role by WHO,” Ms. Peng said at today's inauguration ceremony at WHO headquarters in Geneva. “I hope to make a significant contribution to the great work of WHO in saving lives from TB and HIV/AIDS, and that my involvement will benefit those who are at most at risk.”
According to WHO, there were an estimated 9.4 million new TB cases worldwide in 2009, of which an estimated 1.1 million were among people living with HIV. TB also caused 1.7 million deaths including 380,000 among HIV-positive individuals. In the same year, 2.6 million people became newly infected from HIV, with a total of more than 33 million people living with HIV globally.
In her role as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for TB and HIV, Ms. Peng will participate in a series of high-profile events to promote concerted action on the two diseases and to tackle the diseases together, given that people living with HIV are more likely to develop tuberculosis.